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NYS testing information for 3-8 families

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on March 4, 2019

The following letter from Assistant Superintendent David Hurst was emailed via School Messenger to parents of students in grades 3-8 on Monday, March 4, 2019:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

This spring, we will once again be administering the New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests according to the schedule below:

Grades 3-5: Paper-Based Testing


English Language Arts

  • April 2-3, 2019
    Make-Up Dates: April 4-9, 2019

Mathematics

  • May 1-2, 2019
    Make-Up Dates: May 3-8, 2019

Grades 6-8: Computer-Based Testing*


English Language Arts

  • April 2-3, 2019
    Make-Up Dates: April 4-11, 2019

Mathematics

  • May 1-2, 2019
    Make-Up Dates: May 3-10, 2019

*Computer-based testing is new for 2019. You can read more below.

The purpose of this letter is to provide current and accurate information for parents to consider regarding state testing. We understand and respect the concerns some parents and guardians may have about testing.  While we encourage test participation, we know that there will be parents who decide otherwise. However, we would like to explain how we use the results to improve education for your child as well as changes meant to further improve testing conditions this year.

The most important thing we want parents to know is the state assessments provide us with important data that we use to improve education for all students. We view these tests as a measure of our performance, not your child’s. For example, if we find a grade is struggling with a math concept, we may enhance instruction in that area with new resources or adjust how we teach the concept.

When fewer students take the exams, we are left with an incomplete picture of how students are learning. This limits our ability to address issues that would improve how we educate our students. This is a key reason that educational groups like the National PTA urge parents to allow students to take these assessments.

Our teachers, staff, and administrators do everything we can to make students feel comfortable taking exams. Like any test, we ask our students to simply do their best. In response to parent and educator concerns, New York State has also made a number of changes to testing over the past few years. These include:

  • Results not tied to evaluations: The 2019 Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Tests results will not be used to evaluate teachers or principals. In December 2015, the Board of Regents approved a moratorium on using student scores for educators’ evaluation scores.  This moratorium will remain in place until the state is able to develop a new evaluation system.
  • Fewer testing days: Beginning in 2018, the Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Tests were reduced from three test sessions per subject to only two sessions per subject, meaning each subject will have two days of testing instead of three.  With fewer test sessions, the number of test questions has also been reduced, lessening test fatigue for students and better enabling them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
  • Untimed tests: The 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests will be untimed as they have been since 2016. In general, this means that as long as students are working productively, they will have as much time as they need to complete each test session, within the confines of the regular school day.
  • More teacher involvement: Hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating and reviewing questions for 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests and selecting the questions for the test forms.  
  • Early release of test questions and instructional reports: As in recent years, the State Education Department plans to have instructional reports returned to teachers by the end of the school year and release at least 75% of the test questions to inform instructional decisions.  Also, like last year, the 2019 Score Reports for parents will feature an updated clear design with more information about what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. These reports will be ready over the summer.
  • Computer-Based Testing (Middle School Students ONLY):  In 2019, Bethlehem Central Middle School is transitioning to Computer-Based Testing (CBT) for students in Grades 6-8.  The CBT platform is similar to the i-Ready platform that students have been using the past two years. Students also successfully participated in a CBT simulation on February 26th.  Please note that any and all accommodations directed by a student’s IEP will be adhered to. If you are interested in experiencing CBT for yourself, please visit: https://ny.nextera.questarai.com/tds/#practice.

I hope this information helps explain how we use the state’s testing program to evaluate and measure student growth. While we will respect the wishes of any parent who requests their child not take the exams, we believe participation helps improve our instructional program.

If you have any questions at all, please contact me, the appropriate department supervisor, or your student’s principal. We want to ensure you have all the answers you need on this important issue.  

Thank you.

Sincerely,

David Hurst
Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs

Contact Us


David Hurst
Assistant Superintendent
dhurst@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-3102

Andy Baker
K-12 ELA Supervisor
abaker1@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4921 x22048

William Clairmont
K-12 Mathematics Supervisor
wclairmont@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4921 x22048

Michael Klugman
Principal, Bethlehem Central MS
mklugman@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7460

Dianna Reagan
Principal, Eagle Elementary
dreagan@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 694-8825

Kate Kloss
Principal, Elsmere Elementary
kkloss@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7546

Laura Heffernan
Principal, Glenmont Elementary
lheffernan@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 463-1154

Dave Ksanznak
Principal, Hamagrael Elementary
dksanznak@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4905

Heidi Bonacquist
Principal, Slingerlands Elementary
hbonacquist@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7681